It’s a Wonderful Life

The first half of today was so awful, so thoroughly depressing that for a moment I wondered why I should bother living. And I have to be mighty depressed to think that way.

I have been trying to send money to my love in America to pay the mortgage, and the Internet transaction seems to have vaporised in the ether. No one seems to be able to explain where the money went; all I know is it was taken out of my account. A health insurance company owes me more than $2000 for my medical bills in Beijing following my fall, and that, too, seems to be lost in some bureaucratic maze, and I feel like K in Kafka’s The Trial, absolutely unable to get any information or answers. I felt desperate.

A whole wave of headaches like this came crashing down all at once, and I left the office for lunch feeling utterly helpless and overwhelmed. I was shaking, I felt so frustrated.

As I staggered back to the office, I was counting all the reasons why life just wasn’t worth it. What’s the point? It’s so easy just to end it. And then….

I opened my email, and there was one of those moments that belonged in a Hollywood movie. My eyes saw the Subject of the email, and as my brain processed the letters, I suddenly heard Louis Armstrong’s gravelly voice in the background singing, “And I think to myself, what a wonderful world….”

The header simply said something along the lines of, “I may have a job for your friend Ben.” (Ben is my dearest friend from Beijing, someone whom I treasure, the one to whom I “pushed the envelope.”)

It was a very simple email, extraordinarily kind and gracious, from a reader who has an ad agency in China. Maybe nothing will come of it. It was just that it came at that moment when everything seemed totally black, and it filled my world with a beautiful light, and I felt all the fears and sadness of the earlier hours melt away. As I read the content, tears welled in my eyes, and I finally just rested my head in my arms and cried silently.

The writer had read my posts about Ben and his difficulties landing a job in Beijing, and he was simply saying that maybe, possibly, he might have something to offer. Maybe not, but why not see?

I do not want that person to feel that now I expect anything to come of it. Just as when I brought Ben to my own company back in Beijing for an interview, I was determined that Ben would succeed based on his own abilities, and not on my lobbying. I have since helped Ben find a couple of other job leads, but, to be fair, I divorce myself from the process after the introductions.

So it may not amount to anything, but it reminded me that there is still a lot of goodness on the planet. I picked up the phone and called my health insurance company, and for the first time in months, I actually made progress, and got a commitment from a real person. Suddenly, the world was just…different.

The day also drove home to me just how badly I want to go home after my two and-a-half-years away. I owe it to my company to stay for now, and I am giving them everything I’ve got — after all, they got me out of China. But it’s definitely the last stop on the way back to my family and my cats and my home.

The Discussion: One Comment

Wow. Great post. This is why I keep coming back. Thanks Richard.

August 21, 2003 @ 3:19 pm | Comment

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